Reviewed by James

One of the last times I visited my father's house, he had a jar on the bathroom sink filled with a mix of what looked like salt and water to me.

When asked, he confirmed it was a slurry of Dead Sea salt and water. These days he uses it as an exfoliator, but it's a habit he picked up when he was a boxer: his trainer had him apply salt brine to his face-- to toughen it up so that it wouldn't get cut during a fight.

I mention all of this because the fourth ingredient of L'uvalla's Orange Toner ($31 in the TIA shop) is salt. While sea salt can bring with it other useful minerals, the ingredients list says only "sodium chloride" which implies to me that it's just pure salt. I'm guessing that the high quantity of salt is being used here as a natural preservative.

That's an interesting though unfortunate choice for those of us with sensitive skin. The main reason that I use a toner is to soothe my skin after shaving. (Indeed, the bottle says that the "delicate and fresh bitter orange aroma calms and soothes the skin, giving it a feeling of freshness and comfort.")

But I didn't find it that way at all. The salt led to irritated and sometimes itchy skin, particularly on my neck, which is most irritated by shaving.

On the parts of my face not irritated by the toner, I liked the results. The directions say to use it with a cotton pad, but I found that too fiddly. I bought a cheap spray bottle instead. When misted it sits on the skin for a few minutes and then dries matte. Often my skin (forehead/cheeks) felt good enough (tight and moisturized) to go without any other moisturizer. In fact I know I had days that I only used the toner after showering and before bed.

The smell is pleasant in small quantities (the more I try to smell it the more I dislike it) but it's pretty weak and goes away quickly.

Since the main ingredient is bitter orange (oil and extract) some internet research shows that it is a skin conditioner and skin toner, though it can increase the chance of sunburn (an issue shared with verbena leaf oil, also used.) The essential oils have citral, geraniol, limonene and linalool, which are a cause of concern for some people due to potential allergic reactions and carcinogenic effects. The label says it's good for only three months after being opened, which is short--likely due to the lack of synthetic preservatives.

In short, it's a good toner, with a nice combination of anti-oxidants and organic skin conditioners, just as long as you don't have sensitive skin and you use sunscreen.

Ingredients

Bitter Orange Leaf Extract & Oil,  Natural Spring Water, Peppermint Leaf Water,  Sodium Chloride, Lotus Flower Extract, Potassium Sulfate, Verbena Leaf Oil, Mallow Extract, Birdsfoot-Trefoil Flower Extract, Horsetail Leaf Extract, Alfalfa Extract, Mistletoe Leaf Extract